Indonesia, Australia sign free trade deal

  • Monday 04, March 2019 09:10 AM
Sharjah24 – AFP: Indonesia and Australia on Monday signed a long-awaited trade deal after months of diplomatic tension over Canberra's contentious plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Indonesian trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita and his Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham wrapped up the multi-billion-dollar agreement in Jakarta, some nine years after negotiations first started.

The pact will include improved access for Australian cattle and sheep farmers to Indonesia's 260 million people, while Australian universities, health providers and miners will also benefit from easier entry to Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Greater access to the Australian market is expected to spur Indonesia's automotive and textile industries, and boost exports of timber, electronics and medicinal goods.

Bilateral trade was worth US$11.7 billion in 2017, but Indonesia is only Australia's 13th-largest trading partner and the economic relationship has been viewed as underdone.

Both ministers touted the deal as indicative of deepening ties between the two countries, which have occasionally butted heads on foreign policy issues, including Australia's hardline policy on asylum seekers.